What is creativity? One answer is it depends on your relationship to the creative in question. For example, a consumer or end-user will view creative ideas as finalised and polished work. Alternatively, the creator will have experienced the creative process first-hand, perhaps having witnessed it evolve over several different versions or approaches before getting to the end result seen by the consumer. Consumers and end-users do not often see the journey taken to reach an end result, therefore creativity can be seen as a mysterious, even magical process. Here we share some tips, tricks and secrets you can use yourself to improve your own creative output.PreparationStart by preparing yourself, and your environment to maximise your creative output. Expose yourself to good sources of inspiration. This can take many forms, from reading books and magazines, watching TV, listening to radio, to visiting art galleries, attending music concerts or going for walks in the countryside. Anything that stimulates your mind, or makes you think can be a source of inspiration. Carry some way of recording ideas, such as a notebook or a smartphone.It is perhaps no surprise that a new environment can spark creativity. The routine of everyday life can lead us to operate in auto-pilot, inattentive to the inspiration happening all around us. Travelling to a new place often encourages us to pay increased attention to our surroundings, picking up on details we might otherwise miss.We don’t always have the opportunity to travel, but thinking like a traveller can help you notice new things in your everyday environment, fuelling your creativity. Young children also look at the world differently, due to their brains being less conditioned to the strict schedules of everyday life. The younger they are, the more likely it is that they are experiencing new things for the first time. Trying to think in a simplistic way, like a child might, can help you to see things in a new light, opening up fresh avenues of inspiration. Literally changing your work environment can also be a benefit to your creativity. Try working in a different room, in a cafe, or in a park. Even moving the furniture in your work space, or changing the pictures on the wall can help.GenerationWhen you are ready to start generating ideas, there are exercises you can perform to maximise your creative output. Hopefully the preparation tips previously mentioned have increased your sources of inspiration, nevertheless, coming up with ideas from nowhere can be difficult. Here are some ways you can approach this:Prolifically fail: Initial ideas are often poor. One tactic to tackle this, is to come up with as many ideas as possible without worrying too much about their quality. Anyone or anything that is successful has been subject to many prior failures and it is unlikely that your first ideas will become a solution to your problem. After ten or twenty quick ideas, you will start to come up with concepts that are ‘outside the box’, and much more creative than your initial attempts.Limit yourself: This is perhaps counterintuitive, but restricting your thought process in someway can produce more creative outcomes. The rock band ‘The White Stripes’ are well known for using the number three in their creative process, often using three verses in a song, or basing the melody around three chords. They even go as far as limiting their attire to three colours, or using three effects pedals on a recording. This restriction brings about new ideas and a creative direction and by limiting one part of an idea, others are able to flourish.Randomise: Let chance be the spark for fresh concepts! You could, for instance take a dictionary, turn to a random page, put your finger somewhere on the page, and read the word that you find yourself pointing to. While it’s unlikely that a random word will end up being the perfect name for your new brand, it could be the catalyst you need to make a leap to the word that is. You could use dice and a table with numbers corresponding to colours, to choose a new colour scheme, or use an internet search engine to find an arbitrary source of inspiration.Relax your mind: Ideas come to us more freely when we are relaxed, and even if you’re not consciously thinking about a subject, your subconscious mind can be actively processing it. Creativity can sometimes be improved when you distract yourself from the immediate problem at hand. After taking on a new problem think about it for a while and then try going for a walk, or doing a crossword puzzle before coming back to it. You might find that a creative solution presents itself much quicker.Take ActionOnce you have generated your concepts and know your direction, it’s time to develop them. This is still part of the creative process. Here are some tips to keep your ideas fresh while you are working on them.Get a different perspective. It’s easy to develop tunnel vision when working on a project for a significant length of time. Looking at your work from a different angle, upside down, or in a mirror can help you to see it in a different way. You might spot problems with the idea that you weren’t aware of before, and it might spark new ideas or directions. Just taking a break from your work and coming back to it with fresh eyes can help too.Put yourself in someone else’s shoes. When you are designing something, it’s important to do so with the end-user in mind. By putting yourself in their shoes, you might see things differently that will influence your creative process. Spend a few hours in your end-user’s environment, or do some of the things that they might do in their everyday lives.Break it up. If your project is just too big to handle, try breaking it down into smaller, more achievable goals. This will help take away some of the distractions that might be stifling your creativity.Objective Creative are an integrated marketing agency in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. Their award winning teams successfully deliver campaigns that meet their clients’ creative needs, and apply creative thinking to strategies every day. If you would like to discuss your brief with us, call now on +44 (0)114 253 6756.